This is a companion piece to Quarantine. You do not have to read that one to understand this one, although I hope you read both at once. Both stories are happening simultaneously. One chapter counts for one day and thus updates will be daily.
For Megan. For making me get off my backside and writing this. And for coming up with some brilliant ideas along the way.
Volatility and Victory
Chapter 1: Prologue
"Going to arrest our suspect. Man the fort."
Tony DiNozzo glanced up as his boss walked past his desk towards the elevator, the Director by his side. Had he missed something? Since when were Gibbs and Jenny on speaking terms?
He turned to speak to Ziva about it, ignoring her threat to kill him if he interrupted her work one more time.
"Am I the only one who thinks Gibbs and Jenny are heading back to her house to work out some of their tension?" he asked.
Ziva glared at him, her eyes promising pain in his future. "Yes, you are the only one," she answered. "Does your mind ever leave the bedroom?"
"Come on, Zee-vah," he needled. "Everyone knows the parents were more than just good friends back in the day."
"No," McGee interrupted. "You think they were. You and Abby speculate endlessly about it."
"You wouldn't recognize sexual tension if it bit your behind, Probie," Tony countered. "Although perhaps if Abby was doing the biting…"
A knife skimmed past his head, slamming into the wall behind him. He fell out of his chair in shock and the squad room was filled with the combined laughter of McGee and Ziva. "You missed," he noted, not sure whether it was a good idea to stand up or not. If he stood up, he would be back in Ziva's line of fire.
"I did not miss," Ziva replied. "If I got blood on the carpet, Gibbs would make me clean it."
Tony wondered if that was supposed to reassure him or if she was simply trying to lure him out. He decided to stand up anyway. Gibbs had to have a rule somewhere about not killing co-workers. If he didn't know the rule number, there was a fair bet that Ziva didn't either. And he could always bluff.
"How long do you think Gibbs and Jenny will be gone for?" McGee wondered aloud. "And who's in charge while they're out?"
Tony straightened up. "That would be me, Probie. I am the Senior Field Agent."
"But that does not give you the right to take over from Jenny," Ziva snapped. "You are not the Assistant Director."
"We don't have an Assistant Director," Tony pointed out. "Maybe we shouldn't have let Jenny leave…"
"I thought Vance had the job?" Ziva questioned.
"He does," McGee answered. "But he's in the hospital at the moment. Something about being mauled by a tiger?"
"How did he… Never mind," Tony decided. "The point is that I'm in charge."
"Until Gibbs comes back," Ziva remarked. "And then he will probably kill you."
"The boss would never –"
"You have been acting like a three-year-old all week!" Ziva almost screamed.
"And that is being kind to a three-year-old," McGee added.
Tony scowled. "Stop getting involved in things you don't understand, McChild," he ordered. Privately he was more worried about McGee reminding Ziva of all the things he had done in the past week to annoy her, which with her current mood was likely to lead to his untimely and painful demise.
Ziva rolled her eyes, but seemed to calm down. Tony wasn't so sure he was off the hook though; the knife still sticking in the wall behind him was a good reminder.
Timothy McGee had his head down and was hard at work when he heard someone sobbing. His head shot up and he glanced around, but he couldn't identify the source of the noise.
He looked over at his wayward teammates. Ziva was glaring at Tony, making him wonder just how long it would be before she launched another assault on him. They needed Gibbs to return to control the situation.
And Tony was openly reading GSM at his desk, commenting aloud on every article and picture. McGee was getting to the point where he wanted to get Abby to find a way to silence him.
Or give Ziva a roll of duct tape and hold Tony down.
The sobs grew louder and he turned his head towards the back elevator. His heart dropped. Ducky was moving towards them, slowed down by a crying Abby. Her head was buried in his shoulder.
Before he could rise from his chair to offer more comfort, Tony and Ziva spotted the new arrivals. Ducky stared at them for a moment and McGee found himself on his feet.
"Everyone sit down," Ducky ordered kindly, which only caused Abby to start sobbing even harder. McGee grabbed the chair behind him and forced himself into the seat, dimly aware that Ziva and Tony were doing the same thing.
"Who died this time?" Tony panicked.
"I want you to take several deep breaths," Ducky continued, ignoring the question for the moment.
They obeyed, too scared to argue.
"Gibbs and Jenny have been exposed to a biological agent," Ducky informed them. "It is highly virulent and toxic."
McGee felt all the blood leave his face. On Ducky's arm, the Goth continued to cry.
"The CDC have taken them away to receive medical care," Ducky finished. "They will be quarantined for the next fourteen days and if they show any symptoms…"
Tony cleared his throat. "How bad is it?"
Ducky sighed. "If they show any symptoms, they are likely to die," he admitted. "It's untreatable and extremely contagious."
McGee tried to remember to breathe. He knew the dangers they faced every day, but this… this was…
Abby's head rose from Ducky's shoulder. "They're going to die!" she wailed. "I'm planning their funerals!"
"Isn't that a bit premature?" McGee queried.
She slapped his arm. "Don't be silly," she sobbed. "I've had all of your funerals planned for years. I thought I would have to use Tony's when he got the plague."
"You've planned my funeral?" Tony asked. "Thanks, Abs. Saves me doing it."
"So why have you not planned Gibbs'?" Ziva inquired. "Or Jenny's?"
"Because the silver haired fox is invincible!" Abby cried. "And he would take a bullet for Mommy. They can't die! They can't! Gibbs doesn't ring in sick – he rings in dead!"
"They can't die," Tony repeated. "Tell you what; I'll wear my shiny new black suit tomorrow. They can't die if I'm already dressed for the funerals."
Abby launched herself at Tony, who promptly struggled to stay upright. McGee took in the dark mascara stain on Ducky's shoulder, shrugged his shoulders and walked over to the growing cuddle pile – Ziva having already wrapped her arms around both Tony and the Goth. As they held each other, he tried to imagine life without Gibbs and the Director.
And failed miserably.